Celebrating the Fourth birthday of a mens group recently, the founder and facilitator spoke with me to reveal what the inspiration was for its creation.
Once a month, in a modest suburban backyard in the modern metropolitan area of Melbourne, a community of men brave the infamous Melbourne weather to meet around an outdoor fire and be involved in the 'Mens Fire Circle'.
Interviewer "So what led to you beginning the Men's Fire Circle?"
"It was after turning 50. It was a fairly momentous milestone and in the days following I noticed myself reviewing life, and one of the subjects I was contemplating was how discontented I felt with the spiritual leadership on offer in this culture, or lack thereof. It appears to be that our spiritual institutions have exhausted all their moral authority, and I noticed myself fantasising about just what my life might be like if I lived in a hunter gatherer society where individuals knew themselves as part of a tribal community ... It was about then that I had this epiphany and I said to myself "You have just turned fifty Dave, that means you're an elder, so exactly what are you going to do about it, complain and be a victim or man up, be a leader and then do something about it."
"That thought truly hit home and so I decided to set up a mens-community based upon the old classical tribal values of Men collecting around fire to converse on men's issues, and the idea for the Mens Fire Circle took form."
Interviewer: "Why did you go for a Men's Circle, why not just a circle for anyone?"
"That's an interesting question. At the time I really felt a clear need to observe tribal cultures for my vision. I really wanted to return to something closer to nature, and it seemed to me that in tribal cultures there was a definite significance placed on initiation events and a realization of both the many different needs, along with particular roles in connection with each of the sexes. I had a hunch that if in their wisdom, leaders of tribes had seen value in males and females assembling according to their specific gender to talk about and also guide each other with the particular trials and tribulations common to their own gender, then I concluded, it would be a good principle for the circle I create to be guided by their leadership also."
Reporter: "To what degree have you noticed the gender exclusive design to work, is it helpful or do you feel the loss of the equilibrium of the feminine?"
"Originally I felt uneasy about this, but paradoxically, what I have found is that it appears much easier for a number of men to get connected with their feminine side in circle if women are absent. I sense there are two aspects at play with this. The first is that, in many cases men need to speak about troubles they are having with their intimate romantic relationships, and doing that solely with their own gender appears to grant them a bit of extra scope to impart openly and also genuinely regarding the way they feel with respect to 'the woman' in their lives. I think they perceive that other men can make sense of their concerns more completely. Maybe it's because we have actually all been a party to the very same cultural conditioning, so we are running our lives from the same expectations.
The 2nd aspect is, when the circle is all males, there are no sexual interferences. There's no competing for the attention of the females, no undertaking to "make it" with the other sex. With any prospective sexual diversions taken out, this seems to free up every person to be a lot more honest."
The Men's Fire Circle meets at 7.30 pm on the fourth Tuesday each month, in Greensborough, which is a suburb of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. You can locate the groups website with all the information of upcoming gatherings, and the option of subscribing for email notices of the meetings, click here: http://www.meetup.com/Mens-Fire-Circle-Greensborough-Victoria/
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